In a sudden change of stance, Nike has announced it has terminated Lance Armstrong’s contract because of the “seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade.”
At the same time Armstrong revealed he has stepped down as the chairman of the Livestrong cancer charity.
Nike said in a statement: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.”
Nike said it plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer but Armstrong confirmed he will no longer have a formal role in the organisation he helped create. On Tuesday Nike denied a report in the NY Daily News that it paid $500,000 to former UCI President Hein Verbruggen to cover up a positive anti-doping test by Armstrong from 1999.
A small group of former pro cyclists and cycling fans lead by Paul Willerton picketed outside Nike's corporate headquarters on Tuesday to protest the sportswear giant's initial decision to continue supporting Lance Armstrong.
The disgraced Texan has quit Livestrong in an attempt to distance the cancer charity from the details unearthed by the USADA doping investigation. The 1000-page report and sworn affidavits from many of his teammates contained details of alleged doping by Armstrong and his teams when he won the Tour de France seven consecutive times between 1999 to 2005. Armstrong has always denied doping, claiming he has never failed an anti-doping test.
"This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart," Armstrong said in a statement issued by Livestrong. "Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."
Armstrong helped create the Livestrong charity and promoted the yellow branding by wearing the Livestrong plastic bracelets in 2004. Over 80 million were sold, as Armstrong became a role model and hero for cancer sufferers.
He said he would remain active in the fight against cancer and is expected to speak at a special 15th anniversary gala event on Friday in Austin.
"My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer," Armstrong said.
Livestrong confirmed that Armstrong’s duties will be transferred to current Vice Chairman Jeff Garvey.